A father of conjoined twins faces a heartbreaking decision over whether to have them separated.
In a BBC documentary airing tomorrow night, Ibrahima Ndiaye, 50, is forced to weigh up risking the life of one to save the other.
Ibrahima brought daughters Marieme and Ndeye to the UK from Senegal when they were seven-months-old, to seek help from Great Ormond Street Hospital.
According to the BBC, he’d previously contacted hospitals in Belgium, the US, Germany, Zimbabwe, Norway and Sweden.
The girls have separate brains, hearts and lungs but share a liver, bladder, digestive system and three kidneys.
Marieme’s heart is weak and her life expectancy is poor – and if she dies her conjoined sister won’t survive, reports The Guardian.
Ibrahima says: “In this situation, you donâ€™t use your brain, you follow your heart. Any decision is heartbreaking, so much turmoil, so many consequences.”
The father-of-six also explains that he’s lost his job as a project manager in tourism and events, and that his wife has returned to Senegal.
Now living in Cardiff with his three-year-old daughters, Great Ormond Street have been discussing his options with him.
The twins’ medical team requested the guidance of the Great Ormond Street Clinical Ethics Committee.
Dr Joe Brierley – a consultant paediatrician and chair of the committee – said: “We can do unbelievable things compared to 20 or 30 years ago.
“But just because we can, it doesn’t always mean we should.”
During one of their meetings, Dr Brierley tells Ibrahima what will happen if he doesn’t separate his daughters.
He says: “Marieme’s dying process will be Ndeye’s dying process – it isn’t possible to stop that or change itâ€¦ [And] it won’t be an option to separate them once Marieme starts to die.”
The medical team – led by Professor Paolo De Coppi – discover that Marieme’s heart is weak and her oxygen saturation levels are low.
Ibrahima says: “Paolo told me we can’t do [the separation] without losing Marieme. The light, the hope, the expectation – all of a sudden, this vanished.”
Ultimately, Ibrahima decides that he can’t separate his daughters and knowingly cause Marieme’s death.
He tells The Observer: “They are together, they are equal. Great Ormond Street had been very honest and very clear with me all the way.
“I have never felt under pressure to agree to an operation. I have never been disrespected.”
He adds: “I know there will be a time when they have to go. But at this point they are fighting – and they are also providing me with a reason for living.
“I need to know I gave them everything I could. I’m a lucky man to be part of this journey. We are still on the journey. I donâ€™t know how it will end.”
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